It was, we have to admit, with some trepidation that we downloaded this new city guide for iPhone. Over the past couple of years, we've seen dozens of London apps purporting to give an insider's guide to the city. This one's different, though. It's not innovative or flashy — it just works.
The free app is subdivided into 34 mini-apps (the two not shown above are 'emergency' and 'internet cafes'). Most use the GPS, so you can quickly find the nearest coffee shop, restaurant or bar. Several sections provide useful service information, such as the closest cash machine, car park, petrol station or post office. The London news feed, when we booted it up, included stories we'd not yet heard (despite scanning the news just an hour before). Throw in traffic cameras, the usual transport information, weather reports and more, and you pretty much have London in your pocket.
The name (MyCityWay London24) reflects the two companies who created the app. London24 is the digital presence of Archant, who produce many of London's local newspapers. MyCityWay has crafted numerous city-based apps since creating a New York guide in 2009. While the app's name feels like a cumbersome compromise of branding, its interface is pleasingly slick. Everything is kept intuitive and simple, and you'll find the info you're after in seconds.
The app is not perfect, at least not yet. We spotted a couple of venues that are no longer open, and the absence of our favourite local pub. But, unlike a guidebook, these can be readily updated. The team are planning regular updates with new mini-apps, including a jobs guide and local deals. We'd also suggest they slip Ian Visits a few pennies and incorporate his excellent guide to public toilets in London.
MyCityWay London24 is out now for iPhone and iPad, with an Android version imminent. Versions for Windows phones and Blackberry are also in the works. The app is free.